European Tour

Cockerill closes out South African Open in a tie for 18th

Aaron Cockerill
Aaron Cockerill (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

SUN CITY, South Africa — Christiaan Bezuidenhout won a second straight tournament on the European Tour when he finished with a 69 for 18 under par overall and a convincing five-shot victory at the South African Open on Sunday.

The 26-year-old South African became the first player since Justin Rose in 2017 to win European Tour events on consecutive weeks. Bezuidenhout won the Alfred Dunhill Championship, also in South Africa, last weekend and now has three career tour titles.

Bezuidenhout took a five-shot lead into the final round at Gary Player Country Club at the Sun City resort and maintained that advantage over Jamie Donaldson of Wales, who also closed with a 69. Dylan Frittelli of South Africa (71) was third on 11 under.

Canadian Aaron Cockerill of Stony Mountain, Man., was in the hunt after firing a 68 on Friday, but shot 72 on Saturday and followed that up with Sunday’s 74 to tie for 18th at 3 under.

After starting with a run of pars, Bezuidenhout made bogey at No. 8. But he recovered with three straight birdies after the turn and had four birdies in all on the back nine to consolidate his lead.

“It’s any South African golfer’s dream to win his national open,” Bezuidenhout said. “It’s unreal.”

His story is something of an inspiration after he nearly died as a child because of an accidental poisoning. That incident led him to be prescribed medication to help with anxiety and a stutter but the medication resulted in a doping ban when he was an amateur. The two-year ban in 2014 was later reduced to nine months.

Sunday’s victory took Bezuidenhout up to fifth in the Race to Dubai money list rankings ahead of the season-ending World Tour Championship in Dubai starting on Thursday. Patrick Reed of the United States leads the season standings ahead of Tommy Fleetwood, Collin Morikawa, Lee Westwood and Bezuidenhout.

European Tour

Cockerill posts career best finish at Joburg Open

Aaron Cockerill
Aaron Cockerill (Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images)

JOHANNESBURG – Canadian Adam Cockerill has posted a career-best fourth-place finish on the European tour.

Cockerill, from Stone Mountain, Man., ended with a 68 for 13-under at the Joburg Open on Sunday, tied with South African Brandon Stone and Steve Surry of England.

The trio were six strokes back of winner Joachim B. Hansen.

“Personal best T-4 finish on the European Tour this week,” Cockerill said in a post to his Twitter and Instagram accounts. “Getting closer and closer.”

Currently ranked 118th, the 28-year-old is the only Canadian on the tour.

Hansen of Denmark overturned a three-shot deficit with nine holes remaining to win his first European Tour title Sunday.

Hansen closed with a composed, bogey-free 67 to win on 19 under par, two shots clear of 20-year-old Wilco Nienaber of South Africa. Nienaber carded a final-round 70 and saw his chance at a first tour title slip away with bogeys on his last two holes.

Nienaber took a one-stroke lead into the final round at Randpark Golf Club and extended his advantage to three with three birdies from No. 4.

Hansen birdied Nos. 10, 12 and 14 to get into a tie for the lead before Nienaber bogeyed No. 17 after almost finding the water to the left of the green.

Nienaber then dropped another shot on the last as Hansen saved par from a greenside bunker to seal his victory.

“It was a fun battle out there with Wilco,” Hansen said. “I kept the head calm out there and we stuck to the plan in terms of where we wanted to hit our drives and approaches. I kept pushing. It started slowly but suddenly the birdies came on the back nine.”

Shaun Norris of South Africa was third on 16 under after finishing with a 66.

The Joburg Open returned to the European Tour schedule this year for the first time since 2017. It’s the first of three straight tournaments in South Africa before the season-ending World Tour Championship in Dubai from Dec. 10-13.

European Tour

Cockerill tied for 3rd after first round of Joburg Open

Aaron Cockerill
Aaron Cockerill (Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images)

JOHANNESBURG — South Africans Wilco Nienaber and Shaun Norris both shot an 8-under 63 Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Joburg Open, which made its return to the European Tour schedule for the first time since 2017.

Aaron Cockerill of Stony Mountain, Man., who played his first round bogey-free and made two birdies on his last three. Cockerill ended the day one back of the lead at 7-under 64.

American Johannes Veerman joined Cockerill in a tie for 3rd — both players completed late-afternoon runs at Randpark Golf Club in Johannesburg.

Rhys Enoch, Adilson da Silva, Richard McEvoy, Benjamin Follett-Smith and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano all carded 65s and were another shot back.

On a morning of low scores, Nienaber and Norris both made eagles at the par-5 No. 12. Nienaber also had nine birdies but was held back by three bogeys. Norris made six birdies to go with his eagle and didn’t drop a shot all round.

The 20-year-old Nienaber turned pro last year and his best finish in a tour event is fourth. His power was on show at Randpark as he unleashed a 439-yard drive off the tee on the par-5 No. 4. He nearly picked up a second eagle there as his putt hit the cup but didn’t drop.

Norris is also seeking a first European Tour title, although he’s won twice on the Asian Tour. He put together a strong finish by making five birdies on his last seven holes.

The Joburg Open is the first of three straight European Tour tournaments in South Africa before the season-ending World Tour Championship in Dubai on Dec. 10-13.

European Tour

Cockerill finishes Cyprus Open at T14

Aaron Cockerill
Aaron Cockerill (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

PAPHOS, Cyprus — Callum Shinkwin beat Kalle Samooja in a playoff to win his first European Tour title after a dramatic final day at the Cyprus Open on Sunday.

Shinkwin birdied the first extra hole to secure victory after the pair had finished tied on 20 under par.

“Winning on the European Tour is something I’ve always wanted to do and now I have,” said the 27-year-old Englishman, who lost his Tour card at the end of 2018. “It’s been a bit of a shock, but it feels great.”

Shinkwin, who lost a playoff for the Scottish Open in 2017, had earlier produced a spectacular finish to set the clubhouse target following a closing 63.

Shinkwin was two shots behind with two holes to play but birdied the 17th and then holed from 50 feet for an eagle on the 18th to complete a back nine of 29.

“I could see the scoreboard and Kalle was on 19 (under) and I was on 18,” Shinkwin said. “There was no chance really to hole that putt normally, it was one in a million you’re going to hole it from that distance and my aim was to try and two putt.”

Samooja needed to match Shinkwin’s eagle to win in regulation and saw his long-range attempt run five feet past the hole. He held his nerve to hole the birdie putt to finish with a 64 and force extra holes.

The 32-year-old Finn then left himself with an almost identical birdie putt to extend the playoff, but pushed it agonizingly wide of the hole.

Overnight leader Jamie Donaldson, who needed on-course treatment for a back problem, carded a closing 67 to finish in a tie for third on 18 under with Robert MacIntyre (65) and Garrick Higgo (65).

Canadian Aaron Cockerill finished the tournament in a tie for 14th. The player from Teulon, Man., scored a 66 in the final round and climbed 13 spots from his Saturday position.

European Tour

Cockerill makes European Tour Debut at Australian PGA Championship

Former Golf Manitoba Junior and Match Play Champion Aaron Cockerill of Stony Mountain, Manitoba, will make his European Tour debut this week at the Australian PGA Championship being held November 29-Dec 2 at the RACV Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia.  Aaron earned status on the 2019 European Challenge Tour and conditional status on the European Tour by finishing in 72nd place in the 2019 European Tour Qualifying School. Aaron tees off this Thursday at 8am GMT.

For a list of tee-times including the event leaderboard, please click here >> http://bit.ly/2P3pRVi